PSALMS 52:1 – 54:7 and 1 CORINTHIANS 16:1–24
This is an instructive Psalm of David reflecting the time of when Doeg Edomite informed Saul of David’s whereabouts. It was a sombre time for David due to what happened to Abimelech and his priests after Doeg went to Saul. David became acquainted with the tongue of the wicked and deceitful on many occasions in his life’s journey. He knew that such boastings and arrogance would only last for a season. David was already able to see the bigger picture in light of his many challenges. He could declare the goodness of God as a quality that will endure forever. What motivates people like Doeg to do what he did? David describes it as a love for evil over good. He thought to cosy up to the king so as to court his favour. His love for self-interest exceeded the consequences that would come upon Abimelech. It is a true picture of a dog eat dog mentality.
David is hitting hard the theme of the ultimate end of such behaviour. The wicked will have their moment of fame before it comes to an abrupt and eternal end. It will be the righteous who will displace the wicked at the appropriate time. We see this when Jesus returns to the earth at the time of the 2nd coming. David gives a glimpse as to how the righteous will view the end of the wicked in verse 6. There will be the Fear of the Lord that will come upon God’s people. This is an anointing that will help keep God’s people in alignment with His purposes. The righteous will laugh at the attempts of the wicked at this time but it is tempered with a godly fear of judgement. The man who challenges God is one who has not made God his strength but rather one who has trusted in riches and fame. I have seen this in so many people particularly in my secular years of employment. I am thinking of one boss I had who was both wicked and wealthy. He was vulgar, immoral and self-serving. He lived the life of a playboy even while in his late 60’s. He had no fear of God seeing that he used His name in vain on numerous occasions. That was then but now he is in eternity and one can only imagine the torment he is enduring. Do you think he would now say it was worth it? I remember his sense of invincibility as an employee of the company; God is not mocked.
David contrasts himself with the wicked by likening himself to an olive tree that is placed within the house of God while trusting in the mercies of God forever. It is a picture of what the Lord went through when he was battling in the area of his will at Gethsemane. The name “Gethsemane” can be interpreted as “Olive Press”. It was here where Jesus was pressed out of measure but it was here where Jesus ultimately won the victory. It is here where David is able to praise the Lord God through every circumstance. What an example He presents to the church of the last days; the ability to praise and press on no matter what takes place. It is time to seek the Lord so that we see the bigger picture. This does not mean our challenges will be over; far from it but it does help to allow faith to arise so that the people of God can go forward.
This is an instructive Psalm given by David. In reading verse 1 we come to know that there are many fools in existence today seeing that they say there is no God. It is amazing the great lengths that people will go to in their efforts to disprove God. He makes a statement that Paul will pick up in the book of Romans that there is no one who does any good (Rom 3:10). We know that there are many sceptics and scoffers who say there is no God but it can also be said of many believers. They may not come out and say that there is no God but they live their life as if that is the case. Is there no fear of judgement in going astray; or awareness of His eyes of fire (Rev 1:14)?
God is ever looking down from heaven to see if there are any that seeks to do what is right. The Bible gives evidence of this where He searches to and fro throughout the earth to see if there are any whose hearts are perfect towards Him (2 Chr 16:9). The assessment that David is giving is that all men turned back out of the way (vs 3). This has an obvious application to those who are wicked and have no fear of God; it can also apply to believers who choose to retreat and go back. What about many of the disciples of the Lord who turned back when tested on the message of the Cross (John 6:66)? There will be a great fear that will come upon the wicked resulting in God putting them to shame. When you think about those who say there is no God you can understand why they would be labelled as fools. It is a mind-set that simply refuses to acknowledge the existence of God primarily due to selfish ends. It truly is folly for a creation of God to take issue that there is a creator. I do not even want to think about what it is like when such a person has to stand before the judgement seat of Christ; to come face to face with the very person they denied even existed. May this help to instil a measure of the fear of the Lord in our own lives. David is reflecting upon Zion while at the same time being prophetic regarding the coming captivity and restoration of Israel. This is one of those verses that has a dual meaning seeing that the Babylon(s) of today are about to fall.
David is again in a place of difficulty nonetheless he has the ability to pray and be heard. He states his case that strangers and oppressors have risen up against him; they are those who have no regard for God. This is a scenario that will play out in greater measures in the last days. Take a good look and consider how Christianity today is being marginalized. For some reason it is Christianity that can become the object of jokes, scorn and ridicule. You do not find this with many other religions. The methods and attacks of modern day oppressors have taken on different forms but it still exists and now on a much higher scale. The majority of today’s modern media is the devil’s mouthpiece and he excels in using it to his advantage.
Our hope at such times needs to be the same as David’s where he saw God as the one who can uphold him. He saw God in helping him to have victory over his soul. How will the church be able to withstand the many headed assaults that are coming its way? We take comfort in our relationship with God thinking that all is well but will we be able to stand in the coming days of testing’s? David sees that the enemies of God will be judged for their evil and that Truth will prevail. This suggests to us that the people who will stand will be those who love and embrace Truth. This is a recurring theme throughout the scriptures; what will we do with Truth? It will make all the difference; either we will know the Truth and be liberated by it or we will neglect, hide or reject Truth to our detriment.
David ends this Psalm by doing what he does best; bringing the sacrifices of praise into the house of the Lord. He is quick to put to song a testimony of God’s deliverance over his enemies. We often move on after experiencing a breakthrough or some form of answered prayer without giving sufficient praise and thanksgiving. This will present future problems due to not having a reservoir of testimonies to draw from. Cultivating a heart of thanksgiving and praise will help to bring a needed momentum to the increasing challenges to come.
1 Cor 16
This is the closing exhortation that Paul brings to the Corinthian church. He speaks of his future plans and gives some practical matters on the collection of offerings. Paul was able to help the Gentle churches become aware of the needs of the Jewish brethren. They come to understand much of the persecution they were enduring and they were well taught on how obliged they were to their root and link to Christ through the Jews. Paul recommends a consistent weekly offering to be taken on their behalf as opposed to a “one off” gift to be gathered when Paul would come unto them. Paul was hoping for an opportunity to stay with the Corinthian for a season, perhaps a winter when he would be passing through so that he could spend more time.
In verses 8-9 Paul speaks of a great and effectual door that is being opened up to him at Ephesus. It is felt by many that this epistle was written while Paul was at Ephesus which would put its writing around 57 AD. We may recall that Paul spent a few years teaching at Ephesus and undoubtedly had much fruit while ministering there (Acts 19:10). He was more or less instructing a 2 year Bible School during his time there. Think of the impact of being able to sit under the anointing of someone like Paul on a consistent basis. The enemy is most threatened when his kingdom and domain is under threat. He (the enemy) understood the ramifications of what Paul’s teaching could do. He later came to underestimate Paul’s ability to make an impact while he was in prison. This speaks to the greatness of Paul as he simply availed himself of all available grace in any situation he found himself in. We can rejoice in seeing the many opportunities that God may be giving to a person or a church. At the same time if this opportunity were to have real significance we can expect that there would be battles in breaking through. This must be expected and anticipated. The ability in being able to breakthrough to new thresholds will always have a measure of opposition. The enemy does not cede territory easily and this will be especially true as we approach the last days. Paul had an ability to see the big picture; he was an instrument who was totally yielded to the Spirit of God. This is why he can serve as a real authority to the Corinthians on matters concerning the Holy Spirit.
In verses 10-11 Paul writes for them to receive Timothy with love and acceptance. Timothy was a faithful son to Paul; he was a person who was not self-seeking like many others (Phil 2:19-22). He reflected the virtues of His spiritual father and was able to help stabilize many of the ministries. He then makes mention of sending Apollos at some time in the future. He was a man who had a reputation amongst many of the Corinthians (1 Cor 1:12).
Paul exhorts the brethren to not give up but to press forward. It is here where many give up the fight. Paul is more or less saying if we are going to go down let us at least go down fighting like men. This is a tactic of the enemy where he seeks to wear down the saints of the most high. If we quit we lose the reward. This is one of the reasons why we need each other to encourage us along so that we live with the big picture ever before us. It is also a time when we must be vigilant and watchful. Paul then goes back to the theme of love in verse 14. Let love be the foundation of all that is done. We saw how love was to be the primary factor in the usage of the gifts of the Spirit.
Paul concludes this letter with greetings from the other churches in Asia. Paul had a deep affection and love for this church and it for this reason he writes them in the manner that he did. He is demonstrating the attributes of a true father. We will see the effect of this letter when he later writes to them the 2nd epistle. The letter to the Corinthian church serves notice to today’s church. May God raise up true mother and father figures to help prepare and equip the church of the last days.